|In 1989 as an eighth grader making that regular trek to the dentist, one of
the things that made the experience tolerable was the fact that the dentist
would provide me with a Walkman to take my mind off of getting my tooth
filled. I specifically remember one time bringing my new Kool G Rap and DJ
Polo album Road to the Riches with me to listen to and the dental
hygenist reading it as "Kool Grape."|
Anyway, Kool G Rap went on to become one of the most talent, recognizable
voices in hip hop. From "Road to the Riches" to "Talk Like Sex" to "Ill
Street Blues," his partnership with DJ Polo churned out some of hip hop's
From the beginning, G Rap has been one of the industry's best lyricists. On
1989's "Road to the Riches," G Rap told stories of ghetto life like few had
before and few have since:
The cash was comin fast, money grew like grassOn 1990's Wanted Dead or Alive, G Rap continued to make a name for
himself as one of the industry's best storytellers on tracks like "Streets of
New York" and the previously recorded gem "Riker's Island." He also released
one of his most controversial tunes, the sexually extreme, but undeniably
creative, "Talk Like Sex."
People hungry for the blast that don't even last
Didn't want to be involved but the money will getcha
Gettin richer and richer, the police took my picture
But I still supplied, some people I knew died
Murders and homicides for bottles of suicide
Money, jewelry, livin like a star
And I wasn't too far from a Jaguar car
In 1992, G Rap and Cold Chillin' parted ways with their previous distributor,
releasing Live and Let Die independently. The dispute was over cover
art, a popular point of contention around that time, with Paris taking the
same route on his Sleeping With the Enemy. However, this album was
considered by many to be the duo's best all-around album with solid
production by the Trackmasterz on cuts like the incredible "Ill Street
Blues," "Letters," and the unique posse cut, "Two to the Head" (featuring
Scarface and Bushwick Bill of the Geto Boys and Ice Cube).
After Live and Let Die, G Rap and DJ Polo split. No one knows what
ever became of Polo, but G Rap went on to release 4, 5, 6... and
Roots of Evil, which were less successful albums, both commercially
and artistically. Later this year G Rap will release The Giacana
Story (originally titled Thug Chronicles, but fortunately renamed)
on Rawkus Records, which will feature R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe on a track
called "Called Onez" (?!).
This year, the previously unknown LandSpeed Records has teamed with Cold
Chillin' and released The Best of Cold Chillin': Kool G. Rap & DJ
Polo, a two-disc set that actually is a "best-of."
The first disc features nine cuts, most from the duo's debut Cold Chillin'
release, Road to the Riches. Also included is the original version of
"It's a Demo," two cuts that appeared only on the Rated XXX
compilation, "Rhyme Tyme" and "I'm Fly," and "Rikers Island," which was
tacked onto the end of Wanted Dead or Alive. I was especially
impressed by "I'm Fly," supposedly recorded in 1984. It sounds more like a
track from 1987... but that's the story of Kool G. Rap's career: always years
ahead of the game.
Disc two features the best cuts from Wanted Dead or Alive and Live
and Let Die including "Talk Like Sex," "Ill Street Blues," "Letters," and
"Streets of New York." Truly an incredible rundown of tunes.
I question the exclusion of cuts like "The Symphony" and "Two to the Head" in
exchange for a mediocre remix of "On the Run," but otherwise, the 19 songs on
LandSpeed's Best of Cold Chillin'... compilation are a testament to
the lyrical genius of Kool G. Rap and the importance of Cold Chillin' as one
of the 80's most noteworthy hip hop labels.
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